April 23rd 2018
Jordan Peele’s Get Out was invigorating, intriguing, and utterly unique throughout the entirety of the film. Peele’s first film will go down as an instant-classic, as it engages the viewer with the plot; providing peculiar scenes that puzzle the viewer more and more as the film carries on. Because these scenes gradually indicate what might happen next, a singular glance away from the screen would leave out details paramount to the plot, characters, and the overall message of the movie. While these details do foreshadow future events vaguely, Get Out leaves the viewer guessing until the very end. This film was produced extremely well from a film analytic and box office standpoint; seen through its outstanding critic reviews and instant financial success. However, Jordan Peele’s first film is even more of a success due to the message it portrays about the stereotyping and racial profiling of African Americans. Although always a relevant and important topic, this movie was released at an opportune time due to movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, continuous racial profiling and mistreatment by policemen, and racism that still lingers in some people today. Peele uses a “thriller” themed movie to literally portray the thoughts and feelings of African American’s in the United States without blatantly saying so. This can been seen through Chris’s constant worry over Rose’s parents perception of him; and also, somewhat ironically, Rod’s continuous warnings for Chris to return home. For example, as Rod wisely said,” Sex slave! Oh, shit! Chris, you gotta get the fuck outta there, man! You in some Eyes Wide Shut situation, Leave, motherfucker!” Even though it was meant to be humorous, Jordan Peele is pointing out the real fear of being black in a “white world”. I believe that this film embodies the feelings felt by many today, and that its vast success is in large part due to the social message hidden behind every scene. I will dissect certain scenes and make comparisons to demonstrate that Peele is portraying the stereotyping and racial profiling of blacks going on in the United States today.
An important motif seen in this film is the Armitage family’s unjustified need to “validate” their relationship with or opinion of black people. Seen in the initial scene of the film, Rose uses the point that her father would vote for Obama again as an attempt to calm Chris’s worries. However, this is counterproductive because it defines both president Obama and Chris by their race, making a correlation between the two that lacks any credibility. A Dave Chappelle quote that resonates with me after watching the film is his saying,” I think every group of black guys should have at least one white guy in it.” I believe this quote is relevant because it demonstrates Dave Chappelle, a black man, is willing and eager to engage with white culture. Throughout his career, Chappelle has made light of people from every country, race, gender, or any other defining characteristic; and white people were no exception. However, Chappelle also has a connection with all of these people, understanding each person’s struggles and battles. I believe this is the exact counterpart to what we see in the film, which sadly represents a greater percentage of the United States population. Peele demonstrates human nature’s tendency to try and fit in with one another throughout the “lunch party” scene. Unlike Dave Chappelle, the members of the Armitage family were crude by racially profiling Chris, as if being black was his
Only defining characteristic. An overlying example is that of Mr. Dray’s Tiger Wood’s discussion, even though Chris mentions he has played golf only one time prior. Mr. Dray, and all of the others, are discussing topics that technically apply to Chris, his race; therefore, racially profiling him rather than discussing is other characteristics. In other words, Peele is pointing out the white tendency to identify a black person as a black person, rather than simply a person; and also, their inability to see past one’s color when forming a relationship.
As Dave Chappelle said, ”The hardest thing to do is be true to yourself, especially when everybody is watching.” Not only does this apply to the Armitage relatives’ inability to be themselves in front of Chris, it also describes the Armitage family’s ploy of luring in black men to be sent to the “sunken place.” Rose seems to be the only Armitage that sees Chris for more than his skin color. While the rest of her family is passively racist, Rose seems to be what many would call a normal person. However, five months were spent acting, toying, and lying to Chris in order to achieve their horrific goal. I believe Peele is demonstrating that people, more specifically white people, tend to act normally alongside black people, even though they are suppressing racist tendencies underneath. An example of this in reality is the NFL’s agreement to pay a small sum of money to African American causes so that their players would stop protesting, specifically for #BlackLivesMatter. Even though the agreement seems like a positive gesture, the NFL is more worried about themselves rather than the black athletes for whom they donated. Likewise, in Get Out, Rose acts like a generous person; however, she is self-driven in her reasons. Even though Chris, or black people, is being treated well on the outside, there are still factors that ultimately led to his/their mistreatment. Unknown until the end, the plot is actually focused on white culture silently manipulating the African American people while hiding behind fake gestures that seem genuine. As Chris is bound to the chair, a conversation with Mr. Hudson leads Chris to understand his ultimate fate: a life stuck in the sunken place. While an incredibly seldom part of the movie, Chris’s reaction is that much more powerful. His reaction? Nothing. Just a blank stare at the television screen because he could feel it coming all along. In this moment, every worry or question he had was answered, and he was not the least bit surprised. He simply accepted is fate because it was his fate all along. Whether Chris ends up being tricked by the Armitage family or not, his life would always have followed the same path: a life lived in the sunken place.
A “sunken place.” It is a strange yet powerful analogy that Peele uses to describe the feeling of being black in the United States. We see Chris aimlessly floating in there as another person, a white person, controls his body. Not only does this contribute to the idea that whites run the United States, but also the fact that some individuals possess an elevated level of power over others, specifically black people. The analogy is that African Americans in the United States develop feelings, reactions, and responses to the actions of white people, but they are extremely limited in their ability to voice these emotions; similarly to the black individuals being controlled by white people in Get Out. This is directly related to my earlier point that the opinions of social movements are so desperately suppressed by those in power, which is completely debilitating to that individual or group of people. A reason for this discrepancy between allowing individuals to have feelings without allowing them to voice it is the lack of transparency with those in power. An excellent example of this comes off of J Cole’s new album when he says:
Where do my dollars go? You see lately, I ain’t been convinced I guess they say my dollars supposed to build roads and schools But my N***** barely graduate, they ain’t got the tools Maybe ‘cause the tax dollars that I make sure I send Get spent hirin’ some teachers that don’t look like them And the curriculum be tricking them, them dollars I spend Got us learning bout the heroes with the whitest of skin.
There is a serious problem in the United States where the people have little to no idea what happens to our tax dollars, our votes, and our rights. Regardless, it seems as if these things simply go towards benefitting white people or prioritizing what white people have to say. J Cole states that the schools in black areas spend time and money teaching the success of white people, rather than empowering these kids through the great accomplishments of African Americans. I believe Peele embraced this philosophy when producing Get Out by centering the film on the accomplishments of the Armitage family and the other white folk. It is motifs such as these that enhance ones experience when watching Get Out, allowing the viewer to recognize and associate themselves with the social issues happening in the United States, while also enjoying a thrilling and energizing movie.
The last scene I would like to delve into is the scene in which Rob pleads the police officers to investigate the Armitage family. Not only did they ignore him, they laughed him out of the police station. An interesting thing to note is that all three of the officers were black, but they had intention of listening to what Rob had to say. I believe this is indicative of their fear of dealing with white people. The female officer jokingly said that “the white girl” was driving him insane. While humorous, this is telling of the relationship between blacks and whites within the United States’ society. Regardless if the officers had any belief in Rob’s story, as African Americans, they were not going to risk their jobs, or time, investigating a wealthy white family. Black individuals have no incentive to argue or challenge the decisions of the whites because, in the United States, whites guide the legislation and direction of this country. African Americans would be seen as asinine if they chose to confront the credibility of powerful whites, as would the police officers. Peele included this seen to demonstrate that even if a group of African Americans think like mindedly, they are still fearful of portraying these thoughts due to outside criticism.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out provides an excellent example of a film delivering a compelling message while also providing and executing a well thought-out storyline. Both of these things contribute to its massive success, and are the two reasons I rank Get Out in my top five films. I believe Peele created this film to point out the negatives of being black in the United States, and to provide some sort of insight to how it feels. I believe this film was released at an extremely perfect and important time within United States’ history, and will be seen as an all time success. I believe Peele, Kaluuya, and Howery will continue to win awards and be successes, empowering African Americans to succeed in the film industry that is just now embracing their story.